Familias Unidas guides homeless family toward a brighter future
Like any parent, Hilda Rodriguez wanted a better future for her children. It’s what motivated her and husband Gabriel Robles to leave Mexico for a new life in the United States more than 27 years ago.
When their son found himself as a single parent raising three toddlers, the couple uprooted themselves again. Now in their 60s, Hilda and Gabriel gave up their longtime home in California and journeyed north to Everett, WA to help raise their granddaughters. They moved in with their son and cared for the children so he could work and support his family.
Life took a turn for the worse when their son had a personal crisis. Without their son’s income, Hilda, Gabriel and their grandchildren were facing an eviction in May 2017. They needed help.
Hilda learned about Familias Unidas Latino Community Resource Center in Everett from another organization and made contact in March.
Familias Unidas is one of our six Community Resource Centers in Snohomish County. Mariela Santos works there, and is the only Spanish speaking Housing Navigator serving Snohomish County.
“We provided translation services for them throughout the eviction process,” explained Santos. “St. Vincent de Paul helped the family with a one-week stay at a motel, then we moved Hilda and the girls into a women’s shelter. This gave us time to address other critical needs for the family, like securing health care for the girls, applying for temporary cash assistance for the family, and helping them sign up for subsidized housing.”
Gabriel was forced to couch surf and live in his vehicle while Familias Unidas guided the family through a maze of social services. A diabetic with high blood pressure, he had suffered three heart attacks recently. With the added stress of homelessness, Gabriel struggled to recover his health.
“Our stay at the shelter was not easy as one of the girls developed tuberculosis and was on medication for eight months,” Hilda said. “My biggest barrier was being separated from Gabriel and not having his help and support during this time.”
The family was homeless and separated for 11 months, but remained in touch with Familias Unidas. Santos and her colleagues continued to connect them to needed resources.
The center helped pay Gabriel’s medical bills, guided them through the legal system to maintain custody of their grandchildren, helped Hilda get eyeglasses, provided clothing, shoe vouchers, holiday gifts for the girls and so much more, Hilda recalled.
The tide turned in early 2018. Hilda and Gabriel were approved for subsidized housing through Everett Housing Authority. Familias Unidas helped pay off their eviction expenses and the family rented an apartment. By April, the grandparents and grandchildren were living together again.
“Our family is reunited thanks to Familias Unidas,” said Hilda. “Today we are all healthier, our granddaughters are enrolled in preschool, and Gabriel and I are able to provide for the children. Our future is brighter now that we are together as a family.”
Editor’s Note: Our Community Resource Centers make a powerful impact on people and communities by working to eliminate barriers and provide hope. Our caring staff represent the communities and cultures we serve in Snohomish County. Learn more about our services.